View Full Version : An extra ward for Council?

Oct 20, 2008, 10:18 PM

Extra council seat endorsed
Oct 19, 2008

The city’s governance committee is recommending adding an extra ward for the 2010 elections. The move is a compromise to avoid the cost of a general re-drawing of the electoral map that would address large differences in population per ward.

The average suburban councillor currently represents about two-thirds as many voters as a councillor from the former city of Hamilton (see table below), and that has aggravated tensions on numerous issues. The uneven distribution was a product of amalgamation, but has been lessened to some extent since then by faster growth in the former suburbs.

At the time of the 2006 elections, the number of registered voters per ward varied dramatically – from 11,682 in the rural Flamborough area to 38,478 in the central mountain ward. Most others fell within 15 percent of the average size of 21,149, but there was considerable disparity between the old city and the former suburbs.

If a change is to occur, provincial rules require that it be finalized by December 31 2009, staffer Tony Fallis told the council’s governance committee at its meeting on October 16. He explained that there is no set process for how this is accomplished.

“It’s not regulated by the province anymore,” he said. “It used to be under the Municipal Act and now it’s been handed down to the individual councils themselves.”

He added that any decision by council can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Citizens can also initiate changes – something that was done in London a few years ago where the council rejected the proposals but was overruled by the OMB.

Several committee members expressed concern about the cost of a council-initiated review of the ward boundaries, and committee chair Russ Powers suggested there may be insufficient time to complete it by the deadline.

In response, Dave Mitchell suggested the alternative of creating a new council seat from parts of wards 7 and 8

“It would make real good sense – for one term of council or maybe two, but it would do a huge correction factor there,” he argued, noting that expanding the council could avoid tie votes. [W]e have 15 ward councillors now and a mayor, that’s 16. Most councils aren’t set up that way. Most councils are set up there’s an odd number. So that could put a correction factor into it as well.”

Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead endorsed the idea, suggesting that it could also include parts of Mitchell’s ward which is growing rapidly.

“It would be a very interesting ward because it would be the first ward that will be reflecting old and new in regards to the amalgamation – part of the old and part of the new,” he noted. “And ultimately I think it’s probably where we need to go in the long term.”

The idea was also supported by Maria Pearson and chair Powers. The latter said his review of the decisions of the transition board that set up the current council at amalgamation found no requirement for any formal review of ward boundaries, but he noted they were set up under a very tight deadline.

“Particularly the creation of the wards was done in a very hasty manner,” recalled Powers. “It was just easier to leave the eight existing Hamilton wards as they were and then kind of do a cursory look at how to hive out the rest of the suburbs in the seven wards, in order to meet that deadline.”

The committee is also calling for re-examination of the office and expense budgets of councillors to reflect the varied number of constituents and other factors such as the geographic size of their wards. Examination of a representation by population system was abandoned.

“My sense from my colleagues is that the rep by pop was another way of getting some place,” suggested Whitehead. “If an extra ward was created on the mountain, based on population, I think that would achieve the end result.”

The wording of the decision was left to Powers and the staff to work out, and it is subject to council ratification, and would require at least one public meeting, although both Whitehead and Mitchell expressed some concern about getting citizens involved.

Whitehead said the time to get the community involved was in a full-scale re-examination of ward boundaries, while Mitchell warned that opening this up could would “ignite all of that Freedom Train” – a reference to groups opposed to amalgamation.

“It’s kind of gone very quiet, lately, but you know if you head in this direction … that issue is going to raise its head big, big time again. It’s always there.”

Oct 21, 2008, 2:35 PM
how are they going to split this? it might be cool to sever it along mohawk - north of mohawk can be "escarpment" ward, but it spans the full width of 6,7,8. Then 6 7 and 8 will all be smaller and represent more of the "middle mountain"

i think the big problem is overrepresentation of the rural areas though - wards 13 14 15... not sure how to tackle that. you can't really split dundas in half but that would make numerical sense. Ward 14 has the largest deviation form the average - they need to address that.

Maybe they can eliminate 12 and split it between 11 and 14 to bring those numbers up to the average...

Oct 21, 2008, 3:18 PM
Here's the current situation

And a proposal (by me haha)

Oct 21, 2008, 3:39 PM
^^you would never be able to split up Ancaster like that...

Oct 21, 2008, 3:57 PM
They could have a new ward fouced on the Concession St area. Perhaps from Wellington to Ottawa from the Brow to Fennell.

I would love Mayor Fred to push forward his election promise to replace ward names with names.

Have this new ward called Concession. Ward 8 as Westmount, Ward 7 as Centralmount and Ward 6 as Eastmount.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:04 PM
^^you would never be able to split up Ancaster like that...

I know - I'm just tossing ideas around. But one thing is for sure, you can't have a councillor with a full vote representing half as many people as the average ward size - and less than 1/3 of the population of the largest ward.

They could have a new ward fouced on the Concession St area. Perhaps from Wellington to Ottawa from the Brow to Fennell.

Yeah, that's how they should do this 6/7/8 division off to a new ward - but the article makes it sound like they want to add the new ward at the south end of those which makes a lot less sense to me.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:16 PM
The issues facing the Concession area is different than the issues facing Southmount.

Having a councillor focusing on the Concession area would be better than having 3 or 2 councillors spilting up the Concession area.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:22 PM
hehehe... i can't tell if you are arguing or agreeing - we have both said the same thing twice now haha

man I really hope they fix these ward population problems... it's the only way we are going to get decent representation locally.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:29 PM
Nah i agree I just think it would be best to have a seperate ward for people living in the older section of Hamilton Mountain, Concession St area. They face similiar issues facing ward 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

I think it's kinda dumb to have the Concession St area in the same ward as the new housing development taking place at Twenty Road (Southmount).

Oct 21, 2008, 4:29 PM
Why did we form a megacity again?

Oct 21, 2008, 4:31 PM
Why did we form a megacity again?

I liked it better before that happened.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:39 PM
everyone liked it better then - except the province cause it meant they couldn't download services onto us.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:22 PM
everyone liked it better then - except the province cause it meant they couldn't download services onto us.

And made it easier to get more taxes out of us. :hell:

Oct 23, 2008, 11:21 AM
Can of worms?
Plan for a new Mountain ward aims for a more equal voter representation

October 23, 2008
Rachel De Lazzer
The Hamilton Spectator

The creation of a new Mountain ward would be another "nail in the coffin" for Flamborough residents, re-opening old wounds still smarting from amalgamation, a Flamborough councillor feels.

A new ward is being considered as a possible solution to creating more equal voter representation in time for the 2010 election, but it has a critic in Ward 15 Councillor Margaret McCarthy who says it gives the old city yet another voice on council.

"We thought the balance of power would eventually shift over to the city of Hamilton," says McCarthy. "We knew we would lose and this is just another example of it."

The city is considering rejigging current ward boundaries for more even representation by population but that's a lengthy, costly process.

As an example of the disproportionate representation, 2006 numbers show Ward 14 had 11,682 voters while Ward 7 had more than three times as many with 38,478.

Creating a new ward might prove to be a good fix rather than a rushed full-fledged rejigging before the 2010 municipal election.

"We felt (realigning all boundaries) would be better done with time under the jurisdiction of the new council, the 2010 to 2014 council," said governance committee chair and Ward 13 Councillor Russ Powers, referring to the committee's members who met last Thursday.

He said the ward could include southern portions of quickly growing wards 6, 7 and 8 and a northern portion of Ward 11.

A new ward would also help break tie votes on an even-number council of 16.

Hamilton's ward divisions are, for the most part, based on wards and municipal boundaries that existed before amalgamation in 2001.

Provincial rules require any ward rejigging must be done by Dec. 31, 2009 for the 2010 election.

Powers says time must also be left for appeals from the public to the Ontario Municipal Board.

That leaves the city less than 14 months. Redefining all the wards will be a big job whenever it comes. It would require about $70,000 for an outside consultant to do only a cursory study and roughly $250,000 for the actual rejigging process. Public meetings would add to the time taken.

But if a new ward is created instead, the study can be done in-house. A new ward costs roughly $160,000 for the staff, office expenses and councillor salary.

Powers expects a study for a new ward to be done by the clerk's office in three months. It will then return to the committee for approval, and later council.

If the idea gets approved, it won't preclude the still-needed rejigging of all ward boundaries but it does buy some time.

Former regional chair Terry Cooke says the boundaries, determined at the time by a committee, should have been redefined with amalgamation.

Breaking up old boundaries and creating new ones that cross old city-suburb lines "speeds the healing process," he says. Otherwise, some residents continue to fight old battles as opposed to charting new courses.

"People just tend to want to refight the battle of Stoney Creek or the battle of historic Ancaster."

Councillors for wards 6, 7, 8 and 11 said they were open to the idea but interested in hearing more before giving approval.

Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson said he's been saying since amalgamation that the city should add a seat to the Mountain as it is the fastest growing area.

Ward 7 Councillor Scott Duvall, whose ward has the highest population, says he enjoys his people. "It's hard to break up a good relationship when you're just starting to meet everybody."

Oct 23, 2008, 4:31 PM
mccarthy is a lunatic. she represents 5.2% of the voters and wields a 6.25% vote at council - the same as duvall who represents 11.4% of the voting population - and she thinks re-jigging this will make it more unfair for her?? What planet is she from!?

Furthermore, "old city" councillors yield 50% of the power but represent 62% of the population. If they add an "old city" councillor, they will yield only 53% of power still...

she needs to wake up.

additionally, putting the exta ward at the south end of the mountain wards is dumb. they need to have the new ward along concessions and stretching southward until it encompasses 20,000 people. if they need to extend 6,7,8 south to take some of 11, thats fine. it makes no sense to tack that exxtra one on the south of 6,7,8 though.

Oct 23, 2008, 5:00 PM
they've been a bunch of fricking crybabies out there since day 1. I pretty much have zero use for McCarthy or any of them now. They pay lower taxes and complain that they're being ripped off. They have a stronger voice at council and say they are being ripped off.
Go screw off, Flambasterdas!!

Oct 23, 2008, 6:14 PM
One of the city councillors here is trying to get our system changed. What he wants to do is abolish electoral wards, and have all candidates run as at-large candidates. After the election, the councillors who were elected would be assigned wards to represent, whether they lived in them or not. (I assume the ward in which they live would be given first priority, though.) Last election, two wards had their councillors acclaimed, and when you assign our five at-large councillors to their wards, we have one ward with 4 representatives. (Don't worry, it's an urban ward and they're progressive councillors. ;))

Though personally, I don't think the core cities should be responsible for the rural areas around them. Hamilton should never have been amalgamated with such a large rural area, and neither should Thunder Bay have been amalgamated in that way. We have a rural ward with 8,400 people. Mine has almost 20,000 people, and the average is only 15,000.

Oct 24, 2008, 4:41 AM
I propose we scrap the ward system and use a community based system. Add 9 councilors (So 2 for Flamborough, 2 for Ancaster, 2 for Dundas, 1 for Glanbrook, 3 for Stoney Creek, 2 for "Westmount", 2 for "Southmount", 3 for "Mount Hamilton", 3 for Downtown-Hamilton West and 4 for Undermount)

Councilors would be elected by Single-Transferable Votes in each of these "Communities". The one declared elected on the earliest round (or with the most votes if two meet the elected quota on the same round) in each community would become the Reeve (for Glanbrook and Flamborough) or Borough President (of the rest). They would be responsible for chairing the Community Advisory Council.

Community Advisory Councils would be 9 members each, made up of the councilors for the community with the remainder from the top defeated candidates from the election, who would do this voluntarily (not for pay). If not enough candidates remain, or wish to participate the Reeve or Borough President would be responsible for appointing members to fill the remaining seats.

The City Council would include a "Board of Control" chaired by the Mayor, responsible for fiscal policy, day to day operations, and reviewing the decisions of the other boards. It would be composed of 6 Chairmen (Public Health, Transportation, Economic Development and Planning, Social Services, Public Safety and other By-Laws, Utilities) and the Mayor. The Chairmen would be selected by the Mayor and approved by Council. If any Chairmen are not approved, the Council may, by secret ballot propose individuals for each unapproved position with a preferential ballot. If a candidate is favoured as a first choice by at least 50% of councilors they are automatically confirmed as a chairman, while if it takes the use of second or subsequent preferences the proposition would be non-binding and the Mayor could reject the appointee. The Mayor would then propose another of his own selection. The process would continue until a candidate is selected OR none is left, in which case the Mayor would be able to choose the chairman of his choice. Chairmen would be the full time councilors and would be spokespeople for Council on the specific issues they cover as well and chairing and directing their committee.

The rest of the councilors would be part time. Membership in committees would be done by distributing one round of memberships at a time (ie. each individual would get their first choice of committee if possible (when not enough spaces are available the Mayor would determine who would move to their second choice of committee) before the distribution of second committee memberships (to those who want them) begins.) If too many councilors wish second memberships (more than spaces) the Mayor would determine which would serve on multiple committees. If not enough wish to serve on second committees then it would be possible for third committee memberships. Each committee would be made up of four councilors, the chairperson and the Mayor ex-officio.

During elections there would be no prohibition on running both in a community and as a Mayor, if elected to Mayor (Mayoral ballots would be counted first), the individual's community ballots would be distributed to their second choices. This would encourage more councilors to take a chance on the Mayor's chair. Union and corporate donations would be band.

The Mayor would retain current staffing levels, and the 6 chairs would keep a normal councilor's staff. The other ordinary councilors would have what is currently half the office and staff as a councilor today.


Oct 29, 2008, 11:44 PM
Council has decided not to add a ward on the mountain until a full review of wards in Hamilton. A decision should be made in 2010 but it'll be too late to have effect in the 2010 election. Therefore there won't be any changes until the 2014 election.